Published June 1st, 2017 by

But certain questions stare us in the face.

For the last many years several official and unofficial individuals and groups tried to restore negotiation channels and break the ice regarding long-lasting stalemate in Kashmir. In addition to these overt efforts some behind the curtain communication networks—track two options were always live but without any significant development. Much talked about Dileep Padgaonkar led interlocutors, Sitaram Yechury and Yashwant Sinha headed delegations and individual efforts of Ram Jethmalani and many others could do nothing substantial beyond photo-op sessions and media hype. Significantly, Mani Shankar Aiyar is one smaller but credible voice pursuing Kashmir issue with an open mind and much clear perception about complications involved in resolving Kashmir conflict to the best wishes of people of Kashmir, the best interest of Indian nation and satisfaction of neighbouring stakeholders. There seems not an iota of doubt in the mind of intellectually rich Aiyar about the existence of Kashmir conflict as a festering sore within the body and soul of not only India and Pakistan but the whole subcontinent. A flashpoint that can devour the whole region with slightest military provocation by any of the stakeholders. No one can deny the integrity of other delegations of reconciliation but some people follow an issue with a conviction for its resolution even if it has to be out of box solution, while others just hunt for a result without looking deep into the genesis of the issue in right perspective. There are several people who have been trying hard to fix Kashmir problem but Mani Shankar stands tall out of them. Read More Aiyar’s mission

Published May 2nd, 2017 by

We need a long term strategy to save ourselves from this disaster.

Floods can only be managed to minimize damages during and after the event and not controlled as most of the people think. 2014 floods washed everything in its way and left a lasting mark on our psyche. People are yet to come out of devastating suffering and feel scared of any spell of rains lasting more than a couple of days. This spring was mostly wet. More importantly this winter we had more than enough snow in higher reaches creating a huge bank of water in the mountains. So, by all estimations, we are most probably waiting for an impending fury of floods that too with a crumbling infrastructure to handle such floods and the aftermath. God forbid if things won’t turn in our favor an angry flood is again looming large on our heads! The recent cycle of few warmer April days followed by rains many times created an alarming situation throughout the valley with gushing tributaries, overflowing Jhelum and brimming flood spill channel. For most of the April, this year the whole administration and the people remained on toes because of flood scare. Read More Looming floods!

Published April 11th, 2017 by

Kashmir’s water scenario needs attention!

Water and air are two most important elements of life on earth. No living being can survive without water and quality clean water is the ultimate requirement for the existence of human beings. Water has been a source of conflict and strife between nations and countries since long. During last century air and water world over bore the brunt of haphazard modernization and industrialization. Elixir of life—the water became the worst casualty. After water woes all over the world for many decades, the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, to attract world attention towards water crisis decided to declare March 22 as world water day every year. This year the theme was agreed upon to be “Why Waste Water”?

Kashmir valley was blessed with enough quality water resources. And since ages Kashmir was known for its beautiful mountains, meadows, forests and crystal clear water flowing down its catchment areas making a vast network of waterways and water bodies throughout the plains of the valley. But now the water situation is changing for the worst! In Kashmir the theme ‘why waste water’ may not hold as appropriate for the reason that we claim and may have enough water to sustain and to contribute to cultivate and quench the plains. However, the quality of our water has gone down substantially. During last, more than five decades our water sources, water bodies and water quality has suffered a lot at the hands of people and their never-ending materialism.  Prior to present network of roads and potable water distribution system water flowing through Kashmir’s labyrinth of waterways into its vast lakes and water bodies was the only source of transportation, irrigation, and drinking water. Until the sixties of last century, Kashmir water structures and quality of water was comparatively undisturbed and pure. Earlier nature was the only force of intervention that would decide the course of water, blessedly without disturbing its feature. The seventies was the decade when Kashmir started changing for the worst. With the arrival of unplanned developmental projects, and a placatory touch of small and medium industrialization concept Kashmir’s water system started heading towards degradation. Man and machine created havoc, disturbed the landscape and ambiance of valley annoying water gods towards doom. Read More Why waste water?

Published January 3rd, 2017 by

Srinagar stands hijacked by vendors and vehicles.

In the first week of June 2016, I was pleased to write in these columns about Srinagar freed from roadside vendors and illegal parking. The administration had done wonders by restraining ever-growing roadside vendors and reining unruly vehicles. That time it was a wonderful and comforting sight and experience of serenity, particularly for pedestrians. This whole exercise substantially contributed in regulating messy traffic on city roads. But, unfortunately, this whole exercise, now, seems to have got washed with more than five months of unrest in the valley.

Personally, I am of the opinion that roadside vendors are also important stakeholders in city business. But their share in conducting business should be in synergy with routine regular trading activities. Any disproportionate street vending activity will not only ruin the practice of business but will add to the confusion and chocking of streets. Srinagar like any struggling city in the region has a long history of roadside vending. Earlier, a cluster of vendors would create a festive ‘bazaar’ contributing a lot to economy and employment generation. Even now, most of the cities and markets allow street vendors to do business on any particular day of the week or during festival periods in the vicinity of shrines. Srinagar city’s ‘Sunday market’ in civil line area and ‘Friday market’ in the vicinity of the historic shrine of Hazratbal are best weekly trading destinations for vendors and prospective customers, where with a large scope of bargaining almost everything is sold at reasonable rates. Read More A crowded city!

Published July 14th, 2016 by

How long shall we be losing precious lives?

Death of a young, charismatic man in his early twenties with a certain extreme ideology triggered a trail of killings! Scores of people who lost their lives after his death were less than thirty years. Aren’t these tragic killings an eye-opener for all stake-holders related to Kashmir conflict directly or indirectly? This is not the first incident of forceful and angry demonstrations in Kashmir. In recent past— year 2008, 2010 more than a hundred people, mostly young Kashmiries were martyred over issues that were not directly related to the basic Kashmir issue. The point is what makes the Kashmiris, particularly the younger people to react so aggressively? Obviously it is deep-rooted anger against a system, political dispensation that they find against their wishes. The situation becomes more complex with unabated exploitation, corruption, nepotism and much more that does not go well with the outlook of young, educated class with world information just a press of a button away. Kashmir and its people have gone a radical change during last thirty years. It is no more a Kashmir or Kashmiri that will swallow down any injustice or coercion so easily. Gone are the days when our elders would submit to any injustice without any resistance. With change in international politics, and social reforms world over Kashmir and its people have maintained a considerable pace with such developments. Moreover, like other parts of the India and world over Kashmiri population at present has more than fifty percent of young people who are below the age of thirty years. Read More Kashmir- Back to bloodshed!

Published May 11th, 2016 by

Are we in for the next flood?

2014 floods taught us much bigger lesson. This flood exposed our preparedness against such natural disaster of higher magnitude. Kashmir valley over the period of time has experienced a definite cycle of floods and may be our flood managers drawing hypothetical conclusions from the flood cycles and patterns will be expecting next large flood around 2114. But we should bear in our mind that next flood will not adhere to any set pattern because during last more than five decades we have not been so caring and kind towards our mother earth as was the case with our ancestors. We have greatly fiddled with the forest cover in catchment areas and ruined other ground cover to the extent of stripping. In absence of quality ground cover massive erosion have not only robbed our earth of it precious soil cover, but reduced excess water withholding and overall water holding capacity of our water bodies. Read More The Looming Threat